Governor Mark Dayton leads Republican opponents in cash contest

By KBJR News 1

June 17, 2014 Updated Jun 17, 2014 at 11:03 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- Political insiders spent the day combing through the campaign finance reports of five Minnesota Gubernatorial candidates as they head into the August primary and November election.

In the second quarter, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton out–paced his four GOP opponents in fundraising.

Dayton has more than $750,000 sitting in his war chest for November's election.

That's more than double of his closest GOP rival.

Orono Businessman Scott Honour has nearly $230,000 on hand for the August primary while former Legislative Minority leader, Marty Seifert, has reported more than $100,000 on hand.

Meanwhile, Former Minnesota House Speaker, Kurt Zellers, trails Seifert with $95,000 in the bank.

Jeff Johnson, who has the Republican endorsement, came up the shortest in his second quarter fundraising with just $30,000 cash on hand.

However, Johnson's campaign said the candidate raised $90,000 since earning the Republican endorsement in Rochester.

Former UMD political science professor Craig Grau said Johnson does not have a lot of time to make up that fundraising gap.

"He spent a lot of money before the endorsement," Grau said. "His coffers are light and the big questions is how fast he can fill that up. There is only about 60 days until the primary."

Grau also says the cash contest for the Minnesota Governor's race is heating up as the Republican candidates target Minnesota Democratic Governor Mark Dayton.

"He's not super vulnerable, but in the public opinion polls he is running less than fifty percent," Grau said. "He is leading his opposition, but no one knows his opposition too much."

While Dayton is focusing on the General election in November, the four Republican candidates are hard at work, raising money and campaigning across the state to increase needed name recognition for the August primary election.

"This race for Republican nomination for governor is pretty close," Ben Golnik said. "I can see a path for any of the four candidates."

Golnik is the Chairman of the Minnesota Jobs Coalition and previously worked on the Republican campaigns of former U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, and former U.S. Congressman Chip Cravaack.

"I think Jeff Johnson has a little bit of an advantage as the endorsed candidate. Scott Honour has shown the ability to raise the most money thus far. You've got Marty Seifert who looks to be doing a rural strategy, focusing on earned media, and you have Kurt Zellers, the former Speaker of the House, who has good name ID," Golnik said. "So I think it is a pretty open, fluid race right now."

Golnik's third party group released an ad last week slamming Dayton's support for MNSure and the Affordable Care Act.

"We are using Governor Dayton's words where he said Obamacare in Minnesota was doing phenomenally well," Golnik said. "Even as the program was continually missing goals and missing projections that were set."

At the Federal Level, the National Republican Congressional Committee said it will spend $3.2 million in Minnesota's 7th and 8th Congressional District races.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is expected to spend a similar amount in those races.

"I think you will see more money spent by outside groups than you will from the individual candidates this cycle," Golnik said.

Grau said candidates should notice the defeat of Republican U.S. Congressman Eric Cantor in Virginia, who held a major financial edge over his Republican opponent and still lost.

Grau said that race shows that candidates with the most money, do not always win.

Nick Minock